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Debate comments on healthcare

October 29, 2012
Daily Press


It may seem counter-intuitive to suggest that the last person we want in Washington making decisions about our healthcare is a doctor, such as Republican candidate for Congress, Dr. Dan Benishek, but it's true. After reading your coverage of the McDowell-Benishek debate, Dr. Benishek's comments were so rife with irony and hypocrisy that one wouldn't know where to begin. I can try.

Dr. Benishek ranted about $700 billion being cut from Medicare to fund Obamacare, but he carefully omitted the fact that it's not services or coverage being reduced, but reimbursement payments to doctors and hospitals, something he has a vested interest in avoiding for his pals. He likes Paul Ryan's Medicare plan, calling it "our plan," which cuts exactly the same $716 billion - not from provider payments, but for actual covered patient services.

He takes pride in the idea that under his GOP plan, people 55 and older keep their Medicare benefits, but folks like me who've paid a "Medicare" line item in my paycheck for the past 34 years, we'll get a stipend to buy our own insurance, an amount that will not increase to meet rising healthcare costs. And, what drives healthcare costs? The good doctor disingenuously says it's attributed to the cost of government mandates. He knows full well that doctors, hospitals and the use of pharma and imaging drive costs.

Some examples? The use of often unnecessary, expensive tests like CT scans push up costs and expose patients to the equivalent of 400 chest x-rays each time. Suggesting expensive joint replacement to Medicare patients over other less risky, cost-effective alternatives inflates our bills. The U.S. leads the world in performing the most C-sections for childbirth. Some are necessary, but the fact that it triples the pay day for doctors and hospitals may also have something to do with it.

Republicans like Benishek and Romney have disdain for Americans who don't earn enough to pay income taxes - moochers living off the government - but folks like Dr. Benishek don't complain about picking up a paycheck from the government to care for Medicare's guaranteed flow of customers to them, or when working for the VA. Somehow the VA's budget is covered, but not Medicare's, yet they keep taking money out of my paycheck for it.

I wonder if Dr. Benishek realizes that the VA he worked for is ironically the nation's only socialized single-payer healthcare system, one that does great work for deserving Americans. If you're under 55 and not a veteran, however, Dr. Benishek will instead give you an allowance, because in his words, "healthcare is just too expensive." No kidding, Doc. How are you even making ends meet? Dan Benishek is the poster child for the fox guarding the hen house when it comes to Medicare.

Mike Deering

Ford River



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